Thursday, January 5

wishing lists

before the holidays, people make lists. wish lists. gift lists. lists for Santa. lists and lists and lists.

and then after the holidays, the lists change into to-do lists. but the items on these lists--they're not just any old to-do list items--

they're resolutions.

that word.

I keep thinking about it and breaking it down and trying to force its true meaning out from under the shape of that word.

the etymology of resolution:
early 15c., "a breaking into parts," from L. resolutionem (nom. resolutio) "process of reducing things into simpler forms," from pp. stem of resolvere "loosen" (see resolve). Originally sense of "solving" (as of mathematical problems) first recorded 1540s, that of "holding firmly" (in resolute) 1530s, and that of "decision or expression of a meeting" is from c.1600.
interesting. surprisingly meta, in a way. it's an old, old word, relatively speaking. and then there is its root, resolve:
late 14c., from L. resolvere "to loosen, undo, settle," from re-, intensive prefix, + solvere "loosen" (see solve). Same sense evolution as in resolution. Related: Resolved; resolving. The noun meaning "determination" is first recorded 1590s.
you can read more about all these etymological facts if you like. pretty fascinating stuff. the most basic pieces of a resolution are re and solution. something solved, but again.

my questions are, naturally:

if the problem has been solved, why are we solving it again? why do we need to re-solve it? has it somehow become un-solved? is it that the original, perfect state of things got broken and needs fixing? or is it just to make sure it all stays solved? or just that it needs to be reinforced somehow, and that January is a great time to do that sort of solution-bolstering? the etymology says "intensive prefix." maybe the re is not meant to be again, but just... moreso. really. especially. hmm.

maybe I ask too many questions.

things I'm planning to add to my grand list of resolutions:

more yoga
more sleep
more prayer
more writing
more adventure

if you expected more specific resolutions... well, then you don't know me very well, do you?

3 comments:

Deb said...

Those are more specific than mine :) I'm sure you'll be accomplishing them just fine. (hmm maybe I should be a poet--not)

Janeheiress said...

I love your non-specific resolutions! I hate defining strict goals that I know I won't be able to keep. In any case, this year I'm skipping the New Year Resolutions in favor of goals for my 4th decade! That will be so much more fun.

amelia c said...

heh. thanks!
a fourth decade? wow. I should probably start thinking of goals for when I get to that decade.... it's not too far away, after all...